Friday, August 5, 2011
Wither by Lauren Destefano Review
In the future a science experiment to help people have perfect babies goes horribly wrong and everyone dies at a certain age. Women die at age 20 and men at age 25. Thee are two groups, the pro-naturalist group that believe humans shouldn't have any more kids and humanity should just become extinct and those who believe human life should still go on. Basically they're like pro-life and pro-choice. Girls are kidnapped and either murdered, sold as whores, or married off to rich people as brides. Rhine is kidnapped from her twin brother of whom she wishes to escape back to. She's taken to a huge mansion that sounded pretty nice and basically given everything she could ever want on a silver platter.
So, I guess I'll start numbering.
1. Is this a feminist novel? This question racked my brain. After debating and debating I finally decided that it is NOT a feminist work, but it's way better than Twilight.
2. The Treatment of Women. The treatment of women by the Gatherers was unexplained. If having kids is so important than shouldn't women be at least be sadistically raped (although that is horrible) in hope of insemination? And killing them for no reason? Wouldn't they also be killing men and orphans because they waste space and food? In the real world even the biggest misogynists had reasons for killing women, such as in the Taliban if a woman broke some act of faith in Islam like talking to the opposite sex who wasn't her son or husband then they were killed. It was and is horrible and I do not support it, but even they wouldn't kill women for no reason! So why not just kill everyone instead of just women? It would help! So I was left feeling unsatisfied by that.
The prostitution? Well only a few people could probably afford the brothel price, anyway if it's costy. Another real life tidbit: In countries where there is sex selection abortion and there are less female prostitutes, male prostitution has increased! But in Destefano's world females become whores and guys don't become rent boys! Say what? I mean they could still get good business off of them. Even though homosexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia they have prostitution rings stuffed to the brim with men! And because of sex tourism their pimps are getting cash! So this novel failed at moving along with the real world. . . Sadly, prostituton of men exists and it saddens me, most novels don't have it. A thing to know while I review certain books: I am also heavily into male rights. I hate it when men are raped by both men and women or when they are abused by their husband or wife. Sadly due to gender roles placed on men and women it'd be unlikely for men to get justice because society is used to men abusng women or men raping women. Sad.
And forced marriage is just sad. . . . But it's real, and the truth is it usually isn't that great, I'm hoping she isn't getting some girls hopes up because she may have glamourized it.
3. The Wedding. I don't understand why the wedding had to be formal, yes in the world some girls are wed rather formally when they're forced to do so, but this was definitely glamourized. In ancient Greece there was no formal event, instead a man and woman agreed to call each other there husband and wife respectedly and live together doing what spouses do. That would have been a lot better because you wouldn't have all the "nice" stuff.
4. The Sex. Once again I am going to be talking about the book's sex as I did with another awful book of which I will not name twice. So Linden has sex with Cecily who gets pregnant and bears him a son a month early (eight months pregnant). So people were mad that a twenty-one year old inseminated a thirteen year old, someone even called him a pedophile. Here is the real world, in countries like Africa and India children are wed very young and forced to give birth very young, causing serious health effects. Most are younger than thirteen while their husbands are older? But if that's a "oh yeah, I knew that" answer, here's one that might surprise you. I'm sure you love Shakspeare, clearly you were in love with Romeo and Juliet. In it, Paris is at least twenty-five years old and he is in love and wishes to wed Juliet who's only thirteen (her father asks him to wait two years, though so that she can mature). But everyone loves the play! While there's your answer since know one ever calls Paris a pedophile.
I wondered why he never had sex with Rhine. Sure she may say no, but eventually he was probably going to have to inseminate her, it's just what would happen.
5. The Gender Roles. All the girls are feminine, all the guys are masculine, enough said.
6. The Escape. Some people complained that Rhine always talked about escaping but didn't until the last few pages of the book. I however understand it could take a while, I mean she clearly wanted to because she ran into a level three hurricane!
7. I Am Bringing In My Darwin Fish!
So this book was unscientific. . . . It broke the laws of Darwinian science! (So yeah, if it isn't actually scientific and it's a sci-fi novel, me and Fred aren't the happiest evolved beings in the world. . .) So basically the human race tried to stop natural evolution (it's a copy of The Barcode Tattoo, also), which people should realize is bad! Sure we may find ways to speed up natural evolution so that Fred can have more friends, but trying to just stop it isn't getting us anywhere. That is why everyone is a ticking time bomb! Also she broke one of Darwin's laws of sex! Darwin explained why women usually live longer than men, mainly because a lot of men are soldiers or other "manly" stuff, but it can also be because of health or other stuff. This is one of the reasons why in history there were more female widows then there were male widows (although men weren't considered widows). So wouldn't women live to be twenty-five rather than men? If the perfect babies were so based on science then why did it break such a basic scientific law? I was really mad at that because I am a science nerd. Fred is still sad from reading that, his highly evolved heart is breaking and that isn't good for his offspring.
8. The Book Taking Place in the United States of America! So is the president still in charge? Do we still have the Constitution or was it suspended like in The Handmaid's Tale? Is there a police force? She mentioned police cars near the end of the book so it made me wonder. Also wouldn't the government and police force be working to stop the Gatherers? Wouldn't they stop the men in the grey coats that walk around everywhere in plain sight? Wouldn't there be feminist protests? I'm not even sure whether it's a dystopian or not.
9. So Everyone Who Gave Birth Had Perfect Babies? I know people who if that would happen wouldn't do it they'd just do it naturally. So aren't there people who didn't do it and we have twenty-seven year old guys? Twenty-three year old women? It makes no sense unless a law was passed and it was required.
10. Polyandry, anyone? A not as common as polygamy but still used practice in other countries is women having multiple husbands, polyandry. Basically she sleeps with a bunch of guys in hopes of children. Wouldn't that work, too? Especially if you have more than one son? It just makes no sense why this couldn't also be used.
So, what did Fred and I think of this book?
Well, we give it 1 star. It was very sad to read, and not in the good sad way.
What do I recommend instead?
Margaret Atwood novels (especially The Handmaid's Tale)
Charles Darwin's books